Below is just some of the advice that I usually give to any new skating parents:
Girls wear white boots and boys wear black
Life as a skater.
Skaters are a very dedicated group of individuals with even more dedicated parents behind them, it is very rare to see a child succeed without the support and encouragement, and yes we have all lost it at some time when you are sitting in the cold rink at 6am, having paid for the privilege and the brat tells you they "don't feel like it" but its all worth it in the end?
I hope I'm not putting you off so far,
And yes,I did just say 6am, you will, as your child gets better, realise that they need more space, your coach will ask you to move to a patch session, this is ice time for lessons and practice,  most rinks have patch sessions throughout the week, some are busier than others, skating before school is a reality for most skaters at some time.
Never be afraid to move from one coach to another, they all teach differently, and I have wasted so much money on lessons with a coach that my daughter didn't get on with or, worse still, a coach that wasted time on the phone or chatting to others, don't stand for it, you will find a coach that will just click with the pupil and they will progress much faster.
 However they can't work miracles, they are only human.
don't be too surprised or flattered, if your child is "spotted" by a coach, it is their  business,  they need students to make a living, however i have known coaches to over exaggerate talent, encouraging parents to pay for hours of lessons, that may not have been nessessary.
the best way to find a coach is to watch them with students, the best ones will probably not have any lessons available, but don't rush in to it.
Tests in the UK for ice skating
In the UK, the official body of ice skating is the National Ice Skating Association or NISA you can find their website on my links page
NISA run the 'learn to skate program' with the first basic 10 grades.
this tests the skaters basic skating, your coach should put the skater through these grades, ticking off as they pass the different levels.
Following the basic 10 grades is the passport, this consists of 3 grades bronze, silver and gold, the passport is purchased from NISA.   For the Gold test a skater must skate a simple routine to music, this will include simple jumps and spins and will be put together by your coach.
then when your child is bragging that he/she has passed all their grades, you find out that there is a whole new world of tests that you could never have imagined, this is where skating starts! starting at £16 per test (3 tests per level for a free skater) this is also when it starts to get expensive.
There are 10 competitive levels, these tests are taken in front of at least one judge, with a single skater on the ice.
For the tests above a skater should preferably be dressed in a simple black dress with hair scraped back and neat.
Also for the tests above your coach may charge for warming the skater up and putting them on the ice (and talking to the judge if nessesery)
this is usually the price of a 30min lesson and is paid directly to the coach. You will also have to pay for the ice time as well, I was unaware of the last paragraph when I put my daughter in for her first level one test and was quite shocked when I found out.
At some stage, usually after the passport stage, your coach may suggest that you enter a competition. Do not panic. well actually it is the most stressful time ever as a parent, I have never been more stressed, shaking and feeling physically sick are quite normal and don't get any better, as for the skaters they take it all in there stride, the key is to be totally prepared, arrive as early as possible,
you will have to hand in your music at the desk, so make sure you have your name and club on your disk
always carry a spare with you and have a copy on tape as well. you can't skate without music
competitions are usually on a school day, and most people don't stay all day to watch.
Most competitions have a variety of stands in attendance, like mine, so look out for me. clubs usually sell Teddies and flowers for you to throw on to the ice after the skater has finished their routine, please make sure that nothing falls off.
Zuca bags are not compulsory!
Make-up is a must, as a skater will look very pale without it, hair as for tests,it should be well plastered back with spray or gel, loose hair can be very distracting for skater, judge and audience, so all hair including the fringe should be well secured, a bun or french plait are ideal, however pins can fall out so be careful, a small pin could have a skater over - not what you want!
Dresses do not have to be brand new, I don't know of any child that has worn their dress out! so many dresses are sold on, through clubs and notice boards, many at a fraction of the original cost. so it is well worth looking around, new dresses start at about £40-£60 and can cost over £500 depending on what you are looking for and where you go.
always check for looses stone or beads as you don't want them falling off when  on the ice.
If you are considering purchasing a dress from the internet, abroad eg ebay, you will be charged import duty, vat, and handling on any item over £14 so be careful.
However lovely the dress is though, it will be spoilt with the addition of a good inch of knicker line!!!!!!!!
you are too old to show your underwear! you can also lose points! so make sure there is no way they will show, take them off or wear a thong.
Most skaters wear over-the-boot tights for competitions, they look so much better, you can purchase them from most skating shops and web-sites.
please feel free to add anything that i have missed, we can all learn something new
Roller skaters
most of the above is also true  of roller skating, but a lot cheaper, and on the most part without the early mornings.
the test system is similar, and roller skaters can do all that an ice skater can do! yes you can spin and jump on roller skates.
most roller skaters can ice skate the first time, but ice skaters sometimes find roller skating hard.
The body in charge of roller skating is "The Federation of Artistic roller skating (FARS) the web site can also be found on my links page.
Boots are more expensive than the ice skating equivalent, the boots can  be made with extra air vents, but you can use the same boots for both ice and roller skating. boots start at about £160 but are well worth it! I paid £500 for my daughters boots and they are worth every penny.
Second hand boots do come up but are a bit like gold dust.
the only official importer to the uk is JP sports, you can find the web site on my links page (through tiptree artistic).
please feel free to add anything that i have missed, we can all learn something new

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